The self check-in kiosk is blinking that my confirmation number could not be recognized. Please see nearest gate agent. I have been in a similar situation before at the Seattle airport when I tried to enter my JetBlue flight information at a Delta kiosk. Laughing at myself for making the same mistake twice, I quickly double-check my itinerary to be sure I am checking-in with the right airline and realize that, this time, I am correct.
It is just after five-thirty in the morning and the gate agent I approach, wearing a CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SPECIALIST badge, greets me like a customer satisfaction newbie. No smile, no morning greeting, no direct eye contact.
“Hi, it says it can’t recognize my confirmation number.”
I pass him my passport and, after a few jabbed key taps, he looks up to tell me that there is no record of my name being booked on any flight, let alone my confirmation number. I am due to board my plane in forty-five minutes.
It is then that I remember Mercury is in retrograde. (This does not however explain the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Mercury is not currently in retrograde, but still, WTF?)
The first I learned of Mercury retrograde was in mid-July of 2012. My friend and I were sitting slumped on her couch and I was lamenting how cloudy and unmotivated I had been feeling. “I’m just…off.” My friend’s roommate had an interest in astrology and informed me that, “Well, that’s because Mercury is in retrograde.”
Now, I don’t believe in astrology beyond occasionally being motivated or chilled by a horoscope, but I do believe in Mercury retrograde. Mostly because any time something of mine breaks, I can’t think straight for days on end, or, most recently, my neurotically booked travel arrangements go awry, Mercury is in retrograde.
When a planet is in retrograde, it appears to be traveling backward. This is an optical illusion as there is forward movement, it’s just slowed down. (Picture driving a car quickly past a slowing train—as its movement subsides, it looks like it is going backwards.) All planets go retrograde, but Mercury? When Mercury goes retrograde, you can expect to notice.
As the ruling planet of travel, communication, truth, and clear thinking, when Mercury goes retrograde it may feel like everything is going backwards…also up and down and probably sideways, too. Expect mishaps and things breaking down. Don’t be surprised if your abilities to formulate thoughts and communicate clearly lessen (or abdicate their responsibilities entirely).
Don’t take anything too personally during this time, either.
Others may be experiencing the same unsorted thoughts and abnormal difficulties as you. And you might (definitely) want to consider backing up your computer and tying up any loose ends before the next two times this happens this year (and all subsequent years).
Mercury retrograde is a time to double check, not double down. It’s a time to slow your roll. And it is a time to give yourself plenty of extra wiggle room when commuting or traveling and, ahem, to double-check that any travel plans are in order.
Mercury retrograde isn’t all bad, though. During these periods the past often returns (we’re going backwards, after all) in a different form. Which means it’s the ideal time to take a good hard look at your own past—relationships, life patterns, abandoned ideas. If you find yourself “back” in old feelings or experiences, try not to avoid their presence. This might be your opportunity to dig deeper or see more clearly what happened or what is happening. After all, sometimes our biggest realizations and life changes come out of experiences that shake us up and force us to face things with a new approach.
Mercury retrogrades’ craziness might be just what you need to make a fresh start when the slowing down is over.
As for my travel plans, after thirty minutes on the phone with Kayak’s customer service and both of the airlines I was flying with, all of whom had no record of my booking, my reservation magically appeared on someone’s computer screen. I rushed through security and made my plane just in time. My slap-in-the-face Mercury retrograde reminder to give myself ample travel time for the following few weeks.
Whether you believe in astrology or not, Mercury goes retrograde again June 7 to July 2. We’ve already passed the first bump in the road, but watch out, and see if you notice anything going particularly awry. As for me? I’ll be backing up my computer and making any important commitments on June 6.